Members and staff of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse pose in front of the unique display wall that features all the countless activities

Members and staff of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse pose in front of the unique display wall that features all the countless activities

Reflections of Ponoka: Rising Sun Clubhouse looking to busy and bright future

It was 20 years ago that members of Ponoka Town Council, the Alberta Hospital (Centennial Centre), and officials of the local mental health

It was 20 years ago that members of Ponoka Town Council, the Alberta Hospital (Centennial Centre), and officials of the local mental health and medical programs gathered together to discuss the introduction of a community clubhouse. With the keen co-operation of everyone, a building was secured in a former laundry in the north end of town in 1984, and the initial Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse became a reality.

As staff and support personnel and programs were carefully put into place, the first Ponoka Rising Sun Club House Society was formed to set the plans and goals that would strive to enable and encourage past and present consumers of the Mental Health Services to have the opportunity to live independent and self-sufficient lives in the community. The ongoing motto of the clubhouse program was and will always be to create a safe environment, and to help their members to feel involved and welcome as a part of the community through social, educational, recreational, and work activities.  The busy daily programs also strive to stress the basic philosophy of providing their members with the guaranteed rights of: having a place to come to and a place to return, as well as the right to receive meaningful work and relationships, and to feel needed and be able to grow in self-worth, dignity, and success.

Many hundreds of members and associates from all walks of life have been able to share and enjoy the warm and friendly atmosphere of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse, a quality and healthful experience that has been front and centre right from those humble beginnings here in Ponoka two decades ago and continues to this day at the bright and busy present facility located at 5216-50th Street. The current clubhouse program plays host to 145 active members, all of whom are Mental Health consumers as well as individuals suffering with physical and or learning disabilities.  Each member pays a small annual fee to be involved in the many year round clubhouse programs and activities.

The countless successes and goals of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse have been achieved by the dedicated enthusiasm and leadership of the staff and the volunteer board, as well as by the participation and input of each and every member, and the overwhelming support of our wonderful community and surrounding districts. Current staff include: Executive Director Amanda Henderson, Kelly Budd, Shelly Rose, Shawna Wilson, Liz Forrester, Todd Janzen, and Honorary Volunteer Bob Hepp, who for many years has helped to prepare the magnificent lunch that is served every Wednesday at the clubhouse. Board of Directors are led by Chairperson Noel Harvey, Secretary Elizabeth Edwards, Treasurer Irene Balliant, Peter Lok, Constable Justin Auld, Reverend Doreen Sturla Scott, Leah Forde, and Club House members Ashley C, Howard I, Ken B. and Dan H. (honorary). A great deal of credit and appreciation also goes out to the many volunteers and guests who help out year round at various clubhouse functions and activities. There is also not a day that goes by at the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse that the members and staff are not so grateful for kindly donations of baking, cash, and miscellaneous items, as well as for the countless acts of care and attention such as a simple but meaningful hello on the street, which the members take a lot of pride as accepted members of the community. Members and staff also look forward to taking part and helping out at many events throughout the community, and some that have been included were…. working bingos, at the County Fair and Ag Centre, setting up for special events, as well as conducting garage sales, forming a Christmas choir, and on and on.

There have been many milestones for the ongoing staff and membership of the Ponoka Rising Sun Club House over the past 20 years. The Blue Box and cardboard recycling collection program in and around the Town of Ponoka started in 1996 and are constantly adding new customers to their weekly list. Many of the clubhouse members have secured meaningful employment in the community, and are constantly making new friends each and every day. One of the future goals of the clubhouse is to create more employment opportunities for their members in the community, and to become active ‘partners’ in the ongoing successes of our town and districts, as well as establishing an active working relationship with the Centennial Centre and all available community outreach programs.

Anniversary celebration set for March 4th

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse will be hosting an open house on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., to which everyone is invited. There will be displays of their long and exciting history as well a chance to meet the members and staff, and learn about the services that they have to offer the community.

Everyone at the Club House is very excited about the future, and are looking forward to their ongoing relationship with their friends in Ponoka and district, as well as to increase the knowledge of the vital and active mental health programs that are available in our community.”  Executive Director Amanda Henderson has stressed that the members and staff would like to step up and give back to the community in appreciation for all that they have done for the clubhouse program. “We want to volunteer our support to clubs, organizations, and groups by helping them out with their special events and causes in any way that we can, as well as giving our 100% support to our Town Council for their exciting new visions and focus into the future.”

For more information on the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse programs, please drop in (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday), or give Amanda Henderson a call at 403-783-5810, fax 403-783-5232, or email prsclub@telus.net.